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We agree with Archbishop Cruz and the other maverick bishops. We must change our government now. We also agree with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Reynato Puno. Any change must be done within the framework of the 1987 Constitution. We would like to add: it must be revolutionary yet peaceful. Is all this possible? Yes! Let us discuss how.

First, let us answer a question. Why is corruption and hunger so prevalent in our country? The culprit is accurately identified by federalists: too much concentration of power and wealth in Imperial Manila. They say it must be dispersed. They say that local people must be allowed to plan and work for their own development. They can only do this if more power and wealth are within their control. Well said, but, there’s only one problem. Some federalists insist that this can only be done through federalism and charter change. This is not true. The present Charter does not limit the Senate’s and Congress’ power to devolve power and wealth. Only our lawmakers do.

How does our present set-up foster corruption and hunger? Let us take the case of agriculture. In 1971, Congress devolved the personnel and functions of agriculture to the LGU’s, but not the support funds. So, trained technicians who had to rely on the inclinations of the governors and mayors for their operations. Some technicians were lucky enough to land in LGU’s with receptive officials and ample funds. They were able to do some progress. In municipalities and provinces that could not provide maintenance, operating and operational expenses both services and personnel had to suffer. So do the farmers. So does the country.

On the other hand, the DA itself became bloated with more funds than it can judiciously handle. And so we have the billion-piso swine and fertilizer scams. LGU’s are forced to accept with gratitude irrigation, dryers and farm to market roads, even when obviously overpriced. What else could they do? How else did the term Imperial Manila came about? This simple legislative flaw can be remedied by a simple legislative measure. Even federalists suggest that decentralization through amendment to the local government code is a step towards federalism. Unfortunately, we are so engrossed with federalism that we forgot to undertake this necessary complementary and preparatory step: devolution.

How important is devolution? It can take away so much power and wealth from Imperial Manila and transfer it to cities and provinces where local leaders can tap the participation of local NGO’s and civic minded citizens. Why cities and provinces? Cities and provinces have established operational and financial procedures. They have well-defined working relationships, including powers of supervision, over the municipalities and barangays within their jurisdiction. Existing NGO and regional cooperation can be easily improved or strengthened. In short, it can pursue the fruits promised by federalism without changing the Charter. Simple as this may seem, it would take no less than a revolution to push it through because, as federalists correctly point out, national leadership is reluctant to part with its powers.

We are not picking any quarrel with federalists. We are just trying to help them establish a sound basis for federalism: devolution within the limits allowable under the present Charter. Please. Let us first make the basic steps work. Then, let’s talk if we still need to go further. The kind of revolution we espouse should be clear by now. Local government officials should first be convinced that real local autonomy is within reach now. All they have to do is convince or pressure their congressmen to give it to them now, not after a cha-cha. If they can do this, they will be able to help solve our food crisis but also create more jobs for their constituents. This move  preempts all other forms of revolution!

If PGMA is sincere about stepping down from the presidency in 2010, she herself should lead this kind of revolution. She can leave no better legacy to her country than a political structure that would  enable more citizens throughout the country to work for their own development and prevent any of her successors to hurt the country as she did.  Let each city or province manage its own affairs, but first let us force lawmakers to do their part: yield more power and wealth and disperse it equitably to the people who can best handle it. It had been sitting on it for too long now. It’s time we force them to do their job.

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We agree with Archbishop Cruz and the other maverick bishops. We must change our government now, the part that is the root of all our misery. We also agree with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Any change must be done within the framework of the 1987 Constitution. We would like to add: it must be revolutionary yet peaceful. Is all this possible? Yes! Let us discuss how.

First, let us answer a question. Why is corruption and hunger so prevalent in our country? The culprit is accurately identified by federalists: too much concentration of power and wealth in Imperial Manila. They say it must be dispersed. They say that local people must be allowed to plan and work for their own development. They can only do this if more power and wealth are within their control. Well said, but, there’s only one problem. Federalists insist that this can only be done through federalism and charter change. This is not true. The present Charter does not limit the Senate’s and Congress’ power to devolve power and wealth. Only our lawmakers do.

How does our present set-up foster corruption and hunger? Let us take the case of agriculture. In 1971, Congress devolved the personnel and functions of agriculture to the LGU’s, but not the support funds. So, trained technicians who had to rely on the inclinations of the governors and mayors for their operations. Some technicians were lucky enough to land in LGU’s with receptive officials and ample funds. They were able to do some progress. In municipalities and provinces that could not provide maintenance, operating and operational expenses both services and personnel had to suffer. So do the farmers. So does the country.

On the other hand, the DA itself became bloated with more funds than it can judiciously handle. And so we have the swine and fertilizer scams. LGU’s are forced to accept with gratitude irrigation, dryers and farm to market roads, even when obviously overpriced. What else could they do? How else did the term Imperial Manila came about? Federalists are quick to point out that, this being so, we must adopt federalism. They conveniently overlook the fact that a simple legislative flaw can be remedied by a simple legislative measure. The problem is that both houses of Congress have always been reluctant to give up power. Yet they promise to give it through a cha-cha! It is against this insanity that we must rebel against.

Those who may want to take issue with me on federalism  or  on how  the revolution must be carried out are 24/7 welcome at https://fedecentralize.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

By J.A. Carizo

On the automatic release of IRA and share of the autonomous regions. By law, it is mandated but if you will review the LGC (RA 7160) and the Administrative Code of the Philippines (EO 292), there are a number of loopholes and it takes more than amending these laws like overhauling the Constitution. For example, it is still the central government that dictates the LGUs (through budget circulars, administrative and executive orders) up to what percent should be allocated to specific items. Emergency funds and gender and advocacy budgets for instance, are dictated to be at 5% of the LGU’s annual budget, or that budget on personnel should not exceed 55% of the total budget. Though by intent the same can be considered as a check to local officials who might overspend on staffing (for election purposes, of course), but that is unfair for good government officials who knows the real score on their areas of jurisdiction. In Albay, for instance, a 5% emergency fund is not enough as apart from Mayon Volcano there is also this 20 typhoons or so that pass by Bicol.

1. State operations yet to be drawn. Correct but if you will review Resolution No. 10 of Pimentel, the principles are already there only that they need to be polished. At this point, polishing such concepts need our cooperation.

And we need not abolish the cities, municipalities, provinces and even the barangays. That is also included not only in Pimentel’s proposal but also in other proposals. What we’ll gonna do is enhance their powers so that “they who collect the taxes shall have the prime share and not just the left-overs.” And, of course, they who are at the grassroots shall have the autonomy to design the development they wanted to have and not just wait for the plans from the top. Case in point – the Calabarzon. The area is primarily an agricultural country but what happened? More and more are becoming displaced having no skills to work in the factories. Another case in point: Rapu-rapu in Albay. Many thought the municipality, sitting atop coal and gold, will become richer and economically advanced. But in studies that have been conducted, the IRA of the LGU did not increase and the residents are still as jobless as before. Why? Because the nat’l government declared it an economic zone without due consultation with the residents. As a result, the venture was tax free and because there was no consultation, the residents were not trained or taught new skills so they were not hired. Even the provincial government did not get anything… except perhaps some officials who allegedly received bribes for the continuing operations of the Lafayette mining.

2. Rebellion and inter-tribal and religious rivalry. Maybe if we follow the present government’s prescription like redrawing the territories, that would happen. The present advocacy is to retain the existing subdivisions and ensure peaceful coexistence between religious, ethno-linguistic and other socio-cultural groupings. (RA 8371 is outside the picture as each state, being autonomous, shall resolve the issues on IPs and ancestral lands. Besides, we cannot at all times prescribe a sweeping law for cases that may appear similar but in fact differs as we go to the micro or individual level.) Second, if we study the war in Mindanao, we will find that it has basically religious undertones. Like Christians, Muslims also think that they are also children of God/Allah so why have a non-Muslim rule or dictate over them just like what Malacanang in Manila is doing? (Well, how many Muslims have become Philippine president?). So with Federalism, that gives them a chance to be at par with Christians first by giving them a chance to sit in States, and later, perhaps, in the national government.

Federalism is not the fast solution, though. But can we say that unitary system is a solution after a century of experience with it? Not even the creation of autonomous regions did answer the issue for Malacanang is also playing a hand on who to field and get elected in the autonomous regions. Greed is one of the reasons, of course, and more than this is the lack of a genuine political party law.

3. On the idea of revolution. I think we both agree with that. Federalism in itself is a revolution. 🙂

But apart from federalism, I am studying the case of Spain. It has a proto-federalist system (in-between unitary and federal systems). Some says it’s working fine as it is getting the best of both the unitary and federal systems. I don’t know how that can be applied in the Phils.